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July 15--"When a family loses their home in a windstorm, they don't just have to rebuild their house --they have to rebuild their lives," said Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Lubbock, in a statement.
Recalling the devastation of the E5 tornado that ripped through downtown Lubbock in 1970, last year Neugebauer was motivated to lead the charge in reauthorizing a bill designed to reduce future destruction.
On Monday, that bill, the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Act, was passed by in the U.S. House of Representatives.
"These are truly natural and national disasters. This bill helps promote research that will help save lives, reduce injuries, and lessen damage from windstorms," Neugebauer said in a statement.
Neal Marchbanks, the Democratic congressional candidate in the upcoming general election, hopes the program will make a difference in the South Plains.
"As a meteorologist with over 30 years of experience with the National Weather Service, I applaud the passage of H.R. 1786," he said. "Texas Tech is known as a world class wind research institution. I hope these funds can be used to bolster the research being done right here in West Texas to keep our families and our homes safe. "
This marks the 16th bill 11-year political veteran Neugebauer has introduced to this congress, spokeswoman Libby Hambleton said.
More than just saving lives, it is meant to save money.
"We have found that one dollar in investments in resilience against windstorms can result in up to four dollars in savings in disaster response," Neugebauer said. "So not only are we investing in making Americans safer, we're also saving tax dollars in the long run."
The National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program was created in 2004 and requires reauthorization for additional funding every three years, according to A-J Media archives.
The bill aims to create efficiencies and new guidelines for the program to provide more than $21 million in annual funding for federal research and mitigation efforts through 2016, according to a copy of the measure -- House Resolution 1786.
Moving forward, Lubbock's current congressional representative is hoping to see a bill shifting some of the risk associated with the U.S. terrorism risk insurance program to the private sector "which is more able to handle this type of risk," Hambleton said.
Already passed the financial services committee, Neugebauer hopes the house will vote on the proposed bill later this month and to have it in front of the senate by the August recess.
The current authorization for the bill expires at the end of the year, Hambleton said.
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